TV’s and such

It seems to be one of those weeks where there isn’t necessarily a whole lot to tell.  So to make an entry, and anything with a little length, I will offer a smattering of thoughts from all over the spectrum.
A big Happy Birthday to Chris Horsley and Amanda Smith on the 14th.  I sent them both e-mails and wished them the best.  It is my Aunt Jackie’s birthday on the 25th, so Happy Birthday ahead of time.
Tuesday night Amanda and I went to pay a visit to Doris Coley.  She lives over in Laurel Fork area.  Amanda has worked with her for some time at Macy’s.  She lured Amanda over there in pursuit of a free TV and DVD player.  I really don’t care if we own either and would actually prefer not to.  That is just a little more weight I will have to worry about moving in a year and another distraction to take away some of what little time we mortals have been given.  Somehow I had come to believe it was a venture where we would go over and pick up the newly acquired property and head back home.  We made an evening of it.  We chatted about the nice lovely pleasantries of the life at Macy’s.  Conversation turned to life in general and school.  Of course I did a full analysis to see if her Coley line could in any way be related to mine (Hers is several hundreds of years in North Carolina making at least that long of a connection seeing how mine came directly from England).
She had a nice little piano in her living room that also became conversation.  She invited me to play it and before long I was in my own land while the women pondered paths I didn’t care to walk.  Before the night had ended we sang some hymns and even ended in a discussion about religion.  I ended the evening with giving her a copy of the Book of Mormon and basically a first discussion.  Sometimes I feel I am not as bold as I once was.  Honestly, it seems that one relies upon their companion so much to bear testimony and Amanda had no clue of the missionary ways that I think that is the only reason it felt pretty weak.  Sadly, I think both of us relied on trying to convince too much rather than just bearing testimony and letting the Spirit drive it to the heart.  Amanda left thinking we had been too bold and I left thinking we had not been bold enough.  She called us a few days later and made sure we were still planning on coming back.  Either way, we don’t seem to have offended.  I look forward to a return visit and whether or not she read any of the newly introduced sacred scripture.
Tonight I paid a visit to the Family History Library outside my normal working hours.  We had a pretty severe thunderstorm this evening and the two ladies working inside decided to go watch the storm for a minute.  Sadly, they left their keys in the library.  I rushed down thinking I would find two drowned older ladies.  Luckily enough they had only locked themselves out of the library, and not the building.  So I spent some time visiting with them about the Merrick’s of Maine/Massachusetts.  They decided to leave early so I played the piano and practiced some singing until a member of the Stake Presidency appeared to practice basketball.
Tuesday night at the library also proved to be interesting.  For the second week in a row a young man who is a recent convert came into the library to do some research.  He appeared with his laptop last week with PAF newly downloaded.  He started putting in his family.  He is preparing to go to the temple and wanted to do some of his own names for baptisms in about two weeks.  He never even knew who his Dad was last week.  This week he came back with dates and places and interestingly, was able to link him into the Cosby line.  Once we did that we were able to take him back to Jamestowne and even followed the line back 1,000 years.  He comes from a noble line in England.  He was amazed to find ancestors on both of his lines whose temple work had been done.  Some as early as 1932 in the Mesa, Arizona Temple.  I look forward to seeing him this coming Tuesday when we run these names through TempleReady.
Last Sunday we had our Stake Priesthood Meeting.  We were introduced to the new Mission President, President Millburn.  I prefer him much more than the last one.  He seems much more humble and able to connect with an audience.  In addition, he gave a great talk on fishing.  He is an expert at it, that is for sure.  Who else uses a stomach pump on a fish?  President Mullins (who interrupted my singing and playing tonight) gave a talk about various topics.  One was that individuals in the stake are not carrying their weight in fast offerings.  I thought that was interesting.  None of the other talks I remember.  However, the power in the singing was easily felt.
Today I was branded again at work due to a broker’s dishonesty.  A man gave me a complete sob story about why an appraisal was sufficient.  He manipulated my inexperience in working someone else’s loan, added with the other person not recording what they had done, and my not being thorough enough to catch the little red flags has now cost the bank a loan which is considered a risk and investors will not buy it.  Due to my approving of an updated appraisal, that wasn’t really updated, and the bank always standing by their word somebody got away with money that probably would not have been approved.  Like speeding tickets with points, I have now gained my first and hope they will wear off over time…  It is a good thing I no longer have access to that broker’s information for I would surely give him a phone call and let him know how sorely disappointed I am in him.  At any rate, “Let God choose between me and thee and reward thee according to thy deeds.”
Terry McComb’s funeral is going to be this coming Saturday.  I so wish I could be there.  Alas, we can’t do everything we want in life.  His obituary appeared today in the Times News.  I looked at it this morning at work.  I am looking forward to having my own clipping from the newspaper for my records.  I guess I will just have to pay a visit to the cemetery next time I get back to Idaho.  I so planned on spending a day or two in Branson on the way home for a lesson or two.  I guess I won’t now, at least stay for lessons.
We are headed up to Washington, DC again this weekend to attend the temple.  I am very much looking forward to it.  I have very much felt my faith increase this week and my soul feeling greatly nourished after some experiences in the scriptures.  2 Peter 2 and Ether 12 were powerful this week.
We received the Church News today and I read the parts about the new Brazil Temple.  I was thinking how excited President Faust must be to have the temple dedication coming up and realized he had passed away.  I guess he will be there at any rate, but not with a mortal body.  I wonder who will be called next.  I surely hope it is someone independent from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  I certainly think tradition and order are a good thing but it is always nice to shake things up from time to time.  Too often people get so rigid about the way things should be done we forget the role of inspiration being mixed in the bag.  I would really like to see a President of the Church not be the most senior Apostle.  How would that be for shaking things up?  We need more John Winder’s, Reuben Clark’s, Jedediah Grant’s, Hyrum Smith’s, and Charles Nibley’s in the world.
Lastly, I will end on a political note.  I haven’t had a political candidate really catch much of the sympathies of my heart.  They seem so canned and stale I can’t stand it.  However, Obama gave a comment this week about opening up government.  Boy, if reading an article ever stopped my heart, that was one of them.  A candidate willing to give full disclosure to the public?  If that becomes his whole purpose in life, I will most certainly vote for that man.  Well, that is only after he drops universal health care.  After my experiences in England,  will never support government ran health care.  But open disclosure?  How refreshing.  That requires more effort.  That requires doing things you know the whole country can be privy to.  Where would Bill Clinton be if he had known that?  How would things be different with Bush?  Either of them?  Watergate?  Iran-Contra?  New Deal?  War?  How would the world be different?

Farewell to Terry


Yesterday early afternoon I received a phone call to notify me of the death of a dear friend.  There is always an interesting surge of emotions with the death of a person, especially one you feel such a kinship with.  Somehow though, I couldn’t help but feel a total sense of relief and release.

Terry McCombs was born in Rupert, Idaho and grew up on the farm outside of Rupert.  He graduated from Minico in probably its most notable time.  He went to school when Minico was known nationally for its band program.  The high school was still under 10 years old and Southern Idaho was in the Post-war boom.  Some of his mentors both in choir and band were to forever influence his life.  There was something about the farm soil and the passion of music that set Terry on his future.

I met Terry for the first time in 1997.  I had been asked to accompany a friend, Elena McBride, on the piano for a vocal number she was doing.  She wanted me to meet her vocal coach, Terry McCombs.  There was a McComb’s in my grade who I knew and one just younger who was in choir and who I knew more through friends.  These both turned out to be Terry’s niece’s.  Our meeting took place in Terry’s childhood home where his mother still lived with Terry’s brother’s family.  We sat there at the piano and I played perhaps a few chords when Terry asked me if I sang.  I confessed that I had no singing talent whatsoever and had never really tried.  He took over at the piano bench and then began to have me try a few exercises.  He attempted for hours to get beyond my modesty (my attempt to cover a poor voice).  After several hours, Elena’s lesson turned into an reworking of my thinking concerning singing.  For the most part of which he was very successful at rewiring.  Afterward I remember Elena being upset that her lesson was all about a lesson for me.

Terry had me commit to come to a lesson with him in a studio apartment he was using within about a mile from his home.  It was a little bedroom in the loft and a little living room below with a couch and piano.  I seem to remember a small kitchen and bathroom in the entry level.  We descended into the little living room about a week later and he sat on the couch and I sat in the chair.  Terry always had it a bit on the cool side but it definitely was cozy.  He then spent about an hour teaching me the doctrine of singing.  I remember him offering a prayer that seemed to turn my heart to complete mush.  I was so overwhelmed at such a powerful experience.  Coming from an inactive LDS home, I had no real clue what it was I was experiencing.  I had prayed before, and even seen prayers answered, but never had I experienced what I did that day.  Heaven literally descended and engulfed us that day.

After teaching me on the doctrines of the restoration of all things and of singing he then went on to teach me what he knew and how he knew it.  He bore powerful testimony of what it was he was teaching that day.  I remember openly weeping for the joy that engulfed my heart and how I recognized my life changing before my very eyes.  My very nature was changing in that room.  We then went to the piano and he began to unravel to me some of my physical nature.  I admit I understood more the nature of my throat, singing, and of life then than at any point in my life, probably even since.  It was interesting how he always framed everything with a view for eternity and the building of Zion.

What came from my mouth, from my very heart, was so beautiful we both wept.  Terry sang a song for me that even today haunts me with how beautiful it was.  He then sang a song from Rigoletto that was simply amazing.  He sat at the piano and I sang a song that day which I have not been able to sing since.  It haunts me how beautifully I sang and it kills me I have not been able to sing like that since.  There was such an outpouring of the Spirit.  I do not know if I can ever share what happened that day.  The gifts of the Spirit were present and angels ministered to us.

We met many, many times again in that little elevator to the heavens.  Sadly, I don’t know what happened after a couple of months.  Whether it was my pride or influences in his life, but it began to falter.  We started meeting again in his parents house and doing lessons there which were interrupted and never of much value.  We then started meeting in his home, the old out garage converted into a studio/living room connected to a trailer.  It was never quite the same.  I really don’t know why to this day.

My Senior year at Minico brought the musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  I don’t remember how many lessons before the play I had with Terry but I had such a zeal with singing now I auditioned for the play.  I had been singing in the choir now for a little while.  I totally bombed the audition but somehow I was still put in as one of the brother’s.  Honestly, I did so poorly I didn’t know if they would let me even be a dancer.  That is how badly I auditioned vocally.  I could never translate how I could sing in lessons to doing it in front of other people.  I was terrible when anyone else listened.  Even the State Solo Competition I sang for and did so poorly I didn’t even finish the song.  The choir helped me some.  Good thing it was an open class.

Terry helped a number of us quite a bit with our singing for that play.  I improved considerably under Terry but never could find the voice I had in our lessons on stage.  It drove me completely crazy to know how heavenly it could be and it just never translated outside the studio.  Our lessons continued and I learned a great deal.  We continued to cover the history of music and the mechanics of the voice.  All of which I still feel like I have a pretty good handle since I was learning them from a spiritual perspective.

Minico ended and my whole life had now become engulfed in music.  I had my musical training from band all the way from 6th grade.  I could read and understood basics of music.  I had taught myself a half dozen new instruments in high school and I wrapped up high school putting on finishing touches to play the piano in the mission and learning the master the voice.

I went to Utah State knowing how much I loved music but I would not be pursuing a degree in anything related to it.  It was completely my hobby.  I went home at least every couple of weeks.  Due to situations at home I would either stay with my Grandma or I would stay with Terry.  We often spent all Friday night in a lesson.  It was something about the two of us that somehow we connected and heaven was with us.  I don’t know if he had these experiences with others.  I know he had in the past but I sensed it wasn’t happening with others at the time.  He often expressed his frustration with me at how he wished others wanted to learn just for the sake of learning rather than trying to do it for publicity, pride, or money.  He knew I had nothing to pay him and I wasn’t about to ask my parents for more money since they were helping me through school.  I think that is one thing that changed later.  When his situation got a bit more desperate and he needed money I had nothing to offer and he was required to spend his time teaching paying students.

The time came for the mission and I was prepared.  My own research and experience on my own time had gained me many experiences with the Spirit.  I had come to gain a personal testimony of the Bible, Book of Mormon, Prophets and Apostles, Priesthood, and a bunch more.  I think one thing that was unique is that Terry had opened me up to a very different side of religion.  It wasn’t just the knowledge of it or doctrines, but it was the personal experiences with it.  Through college our lessons moved from the vocal aspects to mostly discussing religion and sharing experiences.  I had obtained many new experiences with heaven and Terry had a wealth of them to share as well.  I think many thought I was a bit crazy with how literally I was experiencing my associations with the other side of the veil but Terry always understood.  I remember my Grandma would get so excited when I told her about some of the experiences.  She would tell me of some of her own.  Mom I instantly recognized was out to kill or denounce anything of which I was experiencing.  She quickly would tell me how it was a cult and I was being brainwashed.  When I would confront her about how literally some of my experiences were she would chalk it up to hallucinating or something else.  Terry and Grandma were two who understood.

It was such an interesting road.  My roommates at college I don’t think knew how to take what was happening.  Some were very understanding at the beginning, others finally warmed to it.  By the end of the school year at Utah State we had all experienced some things together.  The turmoil and emotions of the year were difficult with my parents divorcing and the changing face in so many relations.  The roommates weathered all those and were very understanding.  But the thing I remember most is the little spiritual times I had with each of them and interestingly have bonded each of us together since.  All four of them we continue to feel very closely united even despite distance and time.

Terry offered to have someone provide the musical number for the mission farewell.  He did and I was very grateful.  Surprisingly, he offered some money to help pay for the mission that makes me blush that he would give it to me.  He never wrote a letter, I don’t think I ever wrote him a letter during those two years, but we had communication.  I remember one night I had a dream of a phone call to Terry while I served in Eccles.  It was after my Grandmother had passed away.  We chatted about a few things and I told him of my experiences with Grandma after she passed away.  He told me of some of the experiences he had with his own father after he passed away.  It helped confirm what I was experiencing.  In the dream he told me to get a copy of Parley P Pratt’s Autobiography and to read it.  After I returned home from the mission and had been home a few weeks, Terry called me.  What I had totally passed off as a powerfully spiritual dream came very close to home when he asked if I enjoyed Brother Pratt’s book.  That is just the way Terry was.

Terry asked me to come to visit him in Branson, Missouri after I returned from the mission.  I went to visit him in a heartbeat.  Terry wanted to start lessons again and asked me to move to Branson.  I went back home and made arrangements and headed out for Missouri.  It turned out to be a wonderful experience.  I thoroughly loved my time while I was there.  He mentioned that I was there for two purposes: To learn to love in a way unselfishly and to gain some great experience to carry me throughout my life.  He proved to be very prophetic on both accounts.  I learned to love in several ways which hurt terribly.  I definitely learned some lessons there.  I learned some valuable lessons in management, the corporate world, missionary work outside the mission, and family history.

Terry and I both lived under the same roof with several other families the first year I was there.  It turned to be a very wonderful experience.  I had three families I could call my own in the same house.  Each of them taught me some very important lessons.  Without going into details, it proved to be a time I still find myself thankful for in prayer.

I remember one night I had a dream where I had a dream in answer to a prayer.  I woke up afterwards and immediately went to knock on Terry’s door.  At 3:00 AM in the morning I recounted to him my experience and we both wept for joy.  He shared with me an experience where one of his prayers had been answered by dream just nights before.  This was the type of connection I had with Terry.

Interestingly, it is how merciful heaven is in dealing with us.  Terry definitely had a personality.  Some characteristics I will openly admit drove me crazy.  His little antics sometimes were detestable at how he treated others.  Even me a couple of times.  At other times I could not help but feel sorry for him with the struggles he had on so many fronts.  He had a temper.  He had his bias nature.  He had all his imperfections.  He was not a physically beautiful man by any real means.  However, his heart was something different.  I sat in on many lessons and it was interesting how completely different some of them were.  Some of them it seemed he was trying to impress them so he could gain their trust.  Some it seemed he had to debase himself to get the heart.  Others it appeared he had to bully them.  Every lesson was very different.  I never understood if he was catering to the personality of each or what it was.  My lessons were very direct, even almost unspoken at times.  It was not uncommon for a look to communicate everything.

When it came time for my leaving Branson, we both knew.  I only saw Terry a couple of times after that.  In fact, I think it was only twice after.  Once was in Utah and the last time was a year ago as Amanda and I drove on our way to Virginia.  We stopped and spent several hours with him.

I spoke with him on the phone for over an hour just a month or so ago and he was in good spirits.  It was with a bit of shock I received the phone call telling me he had passed the night before.  Somehow though, it seems like it would be the way Terry would do it though.  My first reaction was that little scoundrel did this on purpose.  But then I sensed a peace about the whole thing and it was meant to be.

In looking back, Terry always introduced me to people as the one with a pure soul.  I don’t know if it is true or not, but I always wanted to be a little better with that title.  Terry always had people who either loved or hated him.  People somehow switched those sides often with him.  I never understood why.  But something about the man endeared people and also brought on some of the strongest criticism.  But in the end he usually weathered it well.

I haven’t had any experiences with Terry spiritually for a couple of years now.  Perhaps we just grew apart.  But now that he has passed, I anticipate something small, at least for a temporary good bye.  If not, this is my little pushing off the ship of a good friend.  I will see you later mate.  I love your soul.

Andra Effectual Doors

Sometimes when we least expect it is when some of the doors open for us and others.
I have not been spending very much time with family history as late.  I took a breather for a while and I had some other things in my life I wanted to focus on a bit more.  However, I have kept my thumb in the water to see if it was hot.
On the 4th of August is the Andra Reunion scheduled in Lava Hot Springs.  A number of the family were each asking me if I knew more details so I took it upon myself to find out the details.  I then took all the information and assembled it into an e-mail and sent it out to the 40 or so individuals whose e-mails I have who are linked to the Andra family.  As a sneaky little family history person, I placed a chart with all the descendents I have for the Andra family.  I asked that if I was missing any or needed an update, to please let me know.  I also encouraged people to pass on the notice about the reunion to those who did not or may not have received it.
Within a week I received about a dozen e-mails with updates on those directly related.  But then the more exciting e-mails started to appear.
As I have written about earlier, the only real family I have had difficulty in obtaining their information is that of the eldest son, William.  He passed away in the early 90’s and Edith continues to live in Missouri.  She has moved in recently with her son, Marc, and has slowed in her age.  In about 2001 she insisted I would not have their records for privacy and legal reasons.  I met with her son, Kent, the same day and they pretty much insisted on the same.  I left it behind but continued to foster friendship.
Kent passed away in 2003 and my communication with his family opened up.  His wife Mary gave me group sheets with all the information on all of Kent’s family and opened up e-mail communication.  Ever since, I have been updated with every new addition.  But she has insisted she doesn’t have contact with the rest of the family.  In sending out the family reunion e-mail, I don’t know how, but I received an e-mail from 2 of Kent’s brothers inquiring about the family reunion.  It opened communication with those families.  Already, I have added one of those two brother’s information to the family records.  The other one is openly willing to share.
What added to it more is that I was able to ask about the other two brother’s families for whom I did not have any information.  They openly gave me their e-mail addresses and I look forward to e-mailing them.  This was pretty well the final major hole in any of the descendents of the Andra family.  I am very thrilled to have had it fall together so well.  Even if it has been 6 years in banging my head against the wall.
The next bit I would like to add relates to another Andra door.  This is through Donald’s line though.  As I have related before in 2006, I have pursued another line which had been lost to the Andra family.  It was Don’s daughter Lori Kaye.  I finally was able to track her mother’s family down and then her.  It fit nicely that at the time we lived only a few miles away.  At that time they welcomed me in, we became friends, but there was no option of expanding that door to allow Don back in to her life.
Friendship and continued communication with Lori Kaye kept things good.  Then the change came.  Her daughter, Sunny, was getting married.  I received an invitation and invited some of the rest of the family to go in on a gift.  Don also sent Lori Kaye a birthday card, the first one in over 50 years of her life.  Add to that her husband’s call as a Bishop, Don & Lolane’s call for a mission, and everything just came.  Don so earnestly wanted to make some mends in this case and I seem to think the Gleim’s wanted to resolve the difference as well.  Completely unknown to me until after the fact, they met and enjoyed dinner together one night.  In visiting with Don and Lolane later, it was absolutely amazing.  All animosity, if any, was not present.  They enjoyed each other’s company and the night was wonderful.  I really wish every story of estrangement could work out so well.
I look forward to those other doors which I knocked on to open up completely.  I wonder what the next one will be…

Prairie Home Companion

Well, I just put out a whole philosophical e-mail and thought I would take a moment to do an actual update on life.
I am sitting here listening to Prairie Home Companion enjoying a few good laughts.  Earlier I listened to Die Frau Ohne Schatten (The woman without a shadow) by Richard Strauss.  It was fascinating to listen to.  Made me want to learn my German.  Funny how music can take us other places.
I have just finished my second week at Bank of America.  Things are going very well.  I am learning many more things about mortgages and all the documentations that attend.  The lessons mostly center around learning the DOS-based system they use for processing all these loans.  I have to admit it is a very detailed system that handles thousands of people working on it at all times with large amounts of information.  Impressive as that it, they tell us it has only gone down once in the last 10 years!  They have replaced one or two systems with Windows applications and they crash regularly so they are not in any rush to be replacing the old DOS-based system.  Therefore, I have to learn the codes and names to navigate the system to check and update information.  They teach us how to check the documents and how to put it into the system.  We were done covering the documents within the first week.  I have found out the position I will be in is basically an assistant underwriter.  It has a whole host of names, but currently it is Home Servicing Specialist (HSS).
Last Saturday and Sunday we had Stake Conference.  I think it was the most powerful Stake Conference I have ever been to.  I have been to some very good ones.  Two were in the Logan Tabernacle (one for the Logan University 4th Stake the other for the Logan University 5th Stake), another in the Springfield Missouri South Stake Center, and the last I can think of was a Stake Conference for the Chester Stake in Wrexham, Wales.  The most impressive part in Missouri was the music and the unity I felt within the congregation.  The Chester Stake was powerful for the fact of some amazing talks given, one particularly by our mission president.  The one for the 5th Stake at USU was that it was basically turned into a stake testimony meeting.  That in and of itself changed the tenor of the meeting but all were invited by name by the Stake Presidency.  The last one for the 4th Stake, I can think of two conferences in particular.  One had Elder Burton, the Presiding Bishop and the other was all the Presidency’s remarks.  President Cherrington usually gave a great talk at all conferences.  So this conference is in good company.  It wasn’t the first conference I have been to with an apostle, but this one had an apostle acted as we expect them to.  Elder Holland gave some powerful comments.
In Priesthood he taught us about Satan binding our tongues, the difference between lips and hearts, and the difference between forms of power and the real thing.  He basically told us we are doing too many things without our hearts and without conviction.  Time to step up to act in the name of the priesthood like we are expected to do.  In Saturday evening, we were taught how we live in a broken world.  Whether you like it or not, things are not perfect.  He taught us about the Atonement and how all broken things will be restored to their proper order at the right time.  Then he pounded out the importance of not whining, not complaining, and going forward in our lives with faith.  He was very direct in those who complain or say something is wrong in life.  He said nobody has the right to complain or wallow in the misery when the Savior took care of them for us.  Time to walk in faith, get up, and be about doing good.  The Sunday session proved to be just as good.  He spoke about his personal experiences of President Hinckley and his prophetic calling.  It was fascinating to learn more about the personal life of a prophet.  He spoke to us about the importance of the gospel and the role of the church.  Again, the topic had to do with looking beyond ourselves and seeing the big picture.  He ended with the importance and the role of the Holy Ghost.  How as latter day saints we live below our privileges and don’t claim the rights that are ours.  We do not appreciate what has been given to us and need to wake up.
Even though I have heard similar talks, the basic point is the power by which he spoke, namely the Spirit of God.  It literally took the message directly to my heart.  I noticed at a couple of points how my bosom literally trembled at what it was he was speaking.  I recognize the power which he conveyed.
In other news, we have been looking for a second car.  With Amanda needing to travel long distances for school this fall, it isn’t going to work to have one car.  So we are looking for a nice little car under $5,000.  So far it has been a miserable failure.  There are very few cars that are below that limit and what we are finding feel like questionable deals.  We went to look at a little Audi A4 for $4,700 and he sold the car at noon.  So we took a little Passat for a drive that he said he would sell to us for $4,000.  It only has 103,000 miles on it.  We took it for a test drive and something about the transmission raised all sorts of red flags for me.  We will have to see if something else pops up.  I may be too picky.  I don’t want a car that smells of smoke or animals.  I would like one which runs well.  I would like one that isn’t completely ugly, like a stationwagon.  Most people take such bad care of cars.  Many have rips in the seats, big marks in the doors or dash, and more.  I keep waiting for someone to give us one so we don’t have to take on a little more debt, but that probably won’t happen soon.  We will have to keep you updated.
Well, I believe that is enough of an update for now.

Sharp Family History Outreach

The past few weeks have held some very interesting walks of family history.  The Sharp family has always been one of the most difficult lines.  I will explain some of the reasons why later.
I have mentioned in past updates my interactions with Kent and Pat Nielsen of Provo, Utah.  He contacted me for the first time several years ago.  I found that he was a relative of mine.  We share the common ancestors of Thomas and Elizabeth Cartwright Sharp.  He was born in 1796
in Misson, Nottinghamshire in England.  We don’t know exactly when he passed away, but his wife immigrated to the United States with her children.  Sadly, she never made it all the way to the Utah Territory dying in St Louis in 1851.
We do not know with certainly what exactly the family’s plans were.  William (1826-1900), my ancestor, joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1848.  His sister, Isabella (1831-1904) joined in 1849 and is Kent’s ancestor.  None of his other siblings joined the church but yet they made their way to the United States.  We assume they came for the LDS cause since they embarked upon a ship predominately  LDS.  They finally arrived in St. Louis despite some considerable difficulties at sea in Nov 1850.
They stayed there for a time.  They held together as a family but the draw for William and Isabella to be gathered with the Saints must have been strong.  They eventually set out for Utah leaving behind them their non-LDS family (Their mother died in Feb 1851).  In 1853, Isabella and William set out for Utah with their new spouses.  They arrived in September of that year.   Joseph and Isabella Carlisle settled in Millcreek, Salt Lake County.  William and Mary Ann headed to Lehi, Utah County.  (I leave behind the Carlisle family due to the fact that they have several individuals working on that line including Leanne Maynes, who I come to find out later was working with Kent.)
Difficulties with the water, cattle, and neighbors prompted them to move elsewhere.  During the evacuation of Salt Lake from threats of the United States Government, they learned of open, available spaces in Weber County to the north.  They made provisions and picked a place moving there the next spring in Mar 1859.  Their daughter, Evelyn, is claimed to be the first white girl born in Plain City.
This is where things get a bit more difficult.  They lived there and were actively involved in the community.  William’s skills as a mason became useful and were employed often in the community.  The family was also actively involved with dramatics and music as well.  Somewhere in this time, discord became apparent in the area.  Somewhere from about 1870 to about 1879, William and Mary Ann (Bailey) Sharp were  excommunicated from the church.  It is also notable to show that they were not the only ones.  A list of individuals was read at a meeting in 1879 announcing their excommunication.  Several prominent names from Plain City are on the list, including; Skeen, Dix, Musgrave, Singleton, Noyes, and Davis.  There are many speculations for the reasons of this excommunication, but nothing is known or documented for sure.
Since we don’t know the exact excommunication date, we do not know how this played into the divorce of William and Mary Ann in 1876.  We do
know that there was a group of former Anglicans who asked for a congregation of the Episcopalian Church to be organized in Plain City.  William Sharp built their church and school for that purpose.
He would later remarry and would die in Mount Fort (Ogden).  Mary Ann we know a little less about, but she would pass away in Plain City in 1913.  With that as a backdrop, we can focus on some more contemporary family.  Anne Sharp would marry in the Endowment House of Salt Lake in 1872 to Daniel Claiborne Thomas.  Their family would for the most part remain active in the LDS church until the present.  The other three  children, Milo Riley Sharp, Evelyn Carlisle Sharp, and Victorine Mary Sharp would all remain away from the church for their lives.
Evelyn would marry James Henry Taylor and we still know little of their family.  They would make their way to Oregon and they are hard to follow with little more than census locations.  Victorine Mary Sharp would marry Robert Edward Maw.  The Maw name is well known in West Weber.  We still know relatively little concerning her family.
Milo Riley Sharp would marry Mary Ann Stoker in 1879.  She was the daughter of William Thomas Stoker and Emma Eames.  Her father joined the
LDS Church in 1852 with two siblings joining in 1860 and 1863.  Her mother passed away in 1863 and that same year her family immigrated to the United States.  They moved directly to Plain City.  Due to financial difficulties, each of the children were raised by separate families.
Mary Ann Stoker was raised by the George and Victoria Musgrave family.  (Her father would go on to remarry and raise another family.)  It was
during this time she took on the name of Lilly Musgrave Stoker (some records show her as Lillian).
Milo Riley and Mary Ann would eventually have 12 children; Milo Ray, George, Effie, Delwin, Ernest, Austin, William Edward, Victorine, Mary
Irene, Edith, Ethel, and Emily.  George, Effie, and Emily all died young.  Their 11th child, Ethel Sharp, is my great grandmother.
The Sharp family has been one of the most difficult lines to connect.  Ethel died in 1925 after giving birth to her 4th child.  John Ross and his parents were not able to take care of the 3 children so they were separated among Ethel’s siblings.  I have written more about this family at this link: Ross-Sharp Wedding.
Grandpa, the son of Ethel, has very few memories of his parents.  He grew up with the Ed Sharp family, and for numerous reasons has refused
to speak of them.  So any continuation of family stories or history has for the most part not jumped that break.
It was with interest that last year in corresponding with Leanne Maynes (Joseph and Isabella Carlisle descendent) that I learned she had some
contact with Mrs. Brenda Pett and Mrs. Carilee Sleight.  I found out they were descendents of Milo Ray (Milo Riley and Mary Ann’s oldest child).  I contacted them and initiated conversation.  The information, history, and photos they were able to provide gave a catalyst to opening up the Sharp history.
With enough information and history on the Sharp line, I began to feel the connection and felt to pursue the family.  The family although raised non-LDS would have several lines who would go on to become LDS.  Only two of the children would join the church in their lifetime, Mary Irene and Victorine.  Although many more lines would open up to becoming reclaimed through a spouse.  For the most part, some of the difficulty
in the Sharp family is still one of a house divided.  That introduced some difficulty in reconnecting the family and bringing them together.  So I will tell of my experience with a couple of the lines.
Brenda and Carilee are both from Milo Ray’s family.  They are a granddaughter and great granddaughter of Milo Ray respectively.  It has been interesting to get to know them.  Brenda is in charge of one of the family history libraries and her mother’s 40 years of accruing family history documents and history has been a valuable resource.  We hope to take this more available to the family and that it can be the means of tying the family together through documentation.  I visited with Brenda for some time this past weekend in touching base and looking to the future.
William Edward, known as Ed, married an active LDS woman and all their children were raised LDS.  This is the family my Grandfather was raised
with, and probably the most familiar of all the Sharp lines.  My personal interaction with Josephine Sharp Costley and Dean Sharp have provided the more human face to this family.  Even though Dean passed away just last month, it has been interesting to interact with these lines at my Grandparents 60th anniversary and at my Grandmother’s funeral.  I have corresponded with Delores Bair who was married to Ed’s son, who we call Eddie.  She provided a great deal of information on the Eddie Sharp and Ed Sharp family line.  I continue to actively pursue this line with Josephine Sharp Costley and Lois Sharp.
I received a phone call from Grandpa sometime last year informing me that a woman, Ms. Lynne Riddle had been to visit him asking for family
history information.  Lynne is a granddaughter of Edith Sharp Martin.  I have been in contact, but she seems to have fallen off the planet.  She
will not return phone calls and e-mails.  She was very anxious in corresponding earlier on.  However it seems she got what she wanted and does not want to share.  For what reasons I do not know.  I do sense it may have a question with the LDS issue after her apparent upset at my
Grandfather imposing his testimony upon her.  I do hope we can break any barrier that may or may not be in place.
Last weekend I visited with Mae Richardson, the youngest daughter of Mary Irene Sharp Richardson.  Mary Irene was the first to join the LDS
church of the siblings.  She joined in 1931.  Her family were all raised LDS, but seem to have had no contact with the rest of the Sharp family
after about 1970.  I just started sending out letters to those who I thought may be family of the Richardson family.  I received a letter back from Mae telling me she was related, and informed me who the Richardson “in house genealogist” was.  In phoned Mae and had a great conversation with her for over an hour.  I also phoned Karen Knudsen, who is her niece, the one who apparently keeps the family history information for the Richardson family.  I look forward to her first e-mail and corresponding and bringing that family back in communication.  The most impressive thing about Mae was her memory.  For being in her 80’s, she could still remember all her siblings birthdates and even locations for weddings, children’s birth locations, and much, much more.
I also relocated a connection through the Victorine Sharp Hunt family.  I met Archie Hunt several times.  Most notably I remember him from my
Grandma’s and Uncle Harold’s funerals.  Who can forget a man who has two prosthetic legs?  One cannot but honor and reverence a man who still
farms under those circumstances.  I look forward to visiting with Archie and reestablishing those links.
So, there is a great deal of work to do in relation to the Sharp family.  There are many descendants that are yet unaccounted for.  There are many
questions and holes just in dates and information on the current family.  Then the fleshing out of stories and life histories yet to be found.  It is good that I am not going about this alone.

Clarification on security, freedom, and comfort

In the first e-mails, I am more building off of common ground.  He pretty much told me his whole desire is to be a billionaire by the time he is 40.  He gave me as the reason for doing so is that he could have independence and security.  Building off of that theme, I gave the following paragraph.  I completely agree with your statements that that is not our whole purpose.  I hope I defined that more clearly in some of the other e-mails that came later, if not in the same one.

“I do not laugh at your hope of retiring early.  I believe it is a noble thing to have prepared so you can spend your live doing something more productive than the pursuit of money.  I completely agree with you on this point.  I hope to be financially independent so I can turn my focus onto other things, more important things.  I see nothing wrong with this desire.  I am sorry if other people find it foolish.”

I certainly think you should do your job with full faithfulness and not just with the end to get money.  You should enjoy your job and find its meaning and opportunity for you.  I completely agree that it is more than just supporting the family.

“There are a couple of thoughts I will throw at you.  I am not to elude that you are caught in these thought patterns, but a caution in case you may have forgotten.  You referenced financial freedom and security.  I am not personally aware of any promises in the gospel that we will be given security or a large degree of freedom.  Agency, yes; the ability to act, definitely; but beware of the thought process that at some point you will have reached a point to where you are excluded from pain, sorrow, or suffering. “

You quoted D&C 70 in relation to this comment.  The Lord there promises us blessings and great blessings.  But I do not read that these promises are necessarily for temporal blessings and temporal security.  Remember, this is one of the reasons why the Saints were so terribly upset in Kirtland and in Jackson.  The Kirtland anti-Banking Society was established and many people fully thought the Lord was going to make them rich.  After all, they were in the process of gathering and of building Zion (literally) and that led to their downfall.  In Jackson the Saints were sure that they would be protected temporally because of some of these commandments.  Well, we know what happened there as well.

To me, when the Lord promises comfort, security, blessings, and freedom, these are all first and foremost spiritually and in the conscious.  I do believe they lead to the physical.  That is one of the messages I get from the New Testament is that Saints will be able to call anyplace, even the pits of hell, home and make it a Zion.  Wherever the Saints are, there cannot be hell.  Remember the Lectures of Faith, those who have a certain knowledge can take spoiling of the goods and even the taking of their lives with joy and a certain knowledge that they have a future and know their place in eternity.  If I remember right, I don’t have the book yet, but the quote of idolatry by President Kimball includes the comforts of family, cars, and houses. 

I guess is what I am saying, Saints were had in Kirtland and Missouri even though they were in hell.  They had comfort and freedom and independence and security despite what they were going through physically.  Many counted it a blessing to come across the plains, even the quote from the old man in the Martin Handcart Company, that it was the place they came to know God and would not trade it for anything.

It seems to me a twist of the scriptures to believe we are promised physical security and freedom.

Your quotes from the Book of Mormon go along with what I have already talked about.  Free forever, certainly is more than this mortal probation (2 Ne 2:26).  The Lord promised the Israelites freedom in Egypt, but they still had to sit there for 400 years.  (I wonder how many lost their faith because they were not given their freedom in their lifetimes?)  Out of darkness into the light, out of captivity to freedom (2 Ne 3:5) seems to be speaking the same.  Under no other head are you made free (Mosiah 5:8) I view death and a resurrection as a freedom from the fallen world too.  Moroni’s inspiration to be freed from bondage (Alma 43:48) is still very much on the Lord’s timetable.  Wandering in the wilderness for 40 years is certainly freedom considered under what they had left with Pharaoh, but still it was very taxing, and they had no real comforts or even security.  They had serpents and all sorts else to worry about.  Hearing the Lord and following him will make us free (D&C 38:22) is very true, but what about all those Saints who wasted away with the same promise in eastern Germany and Soviet provinces.  Hundreds never saw freedom in their life according to what you are arguing here, but certainly did in the spiritual way.  Even Brigham Young has quotes where the strangling of the US government was diminishing the Saints freedoms.  His views were of the freedom of polygamy, and (don’t know if I would argue for it) we still don’t have the complete freedom of our religion in this country. 

As for the quote about the Constitution and our liberty to make us free.  That is one of the big things Joseph Smith taught.  Our constitution gave us the freedom of thought, to act as we please (despite its tightening under Brigham) and freedom of conscience.  You know this. 

If we are righteous, the promise is that we shall have our needs met.  Even that our cup will run over and with tithing that we cannot receive them all.  But that certainly never applied to riches as far as I have ever seen. My bank account certainly could receive more and I could too.  So it doesn’t have to do with money.  But in spiritual blessings, from which the physical manifests itself, I certainly believe we can be therewith content with what the Lord has allotted us.  Even if that is a prison cell in the freezing of winter in 1837 called Liberty.  Isn’t that what the Lord told Joseph and later.  Receive ALL things with thankfulness and you shall be made glorious (again, not necessarily physically).

“I know you are not saving up money to become rich.  It is your desire to be able to be more free to do things which are of more worth with your time to your family and for others.  I certainly think that is a worthwhile pursuit.  Just be careful not to be driven too much by money rather than your worthwhile pursuits. “

This was another building off the common ground concept.  Start at common ground, build off of it, and then you can help them see where you vary and then they are left with the choice.  Isn’t this much of the Socratic method.  But you have to start somewhere to where they can agree with you.

This was one of the main reasons why he wanted to gain riches.  I do think it is a noble thing for you to be able to do more with your family and time for the benefit of others.  I admit, no matter how much I like my job, I have to do it a certain amount and detract away from time that could be used with family, teaching, or even in service.  Honestly, you can love your job and want to spend all your time there, but in the end, whether you love your job or not is not going to get you into heavens quadrants.  Your family, your service and stewardship will count much more.

There are a score of great blessings that do come from work.  I don’t doubt that.  But I am sure you could learn many of those same ethics and work from other meaningful service too.  Our jobs are a required part of life.  Someone has to clean the sewers, someone has to move the trash, someone has to do crime scene investigating, someone has to be the mortician.  I certainly hope those people don’t hate their jobs.  I do believe, in the vein above, that you have to have that inside conviction, freedom, and security and the outside will change.  Hell will in fact become heaven.  If you hate your job, first you should probably change your heart and mind, then look again at the job and consider if a change needs to be made.

I completely agree with the Luke 3:14, 1 Tim 6:8, Heb 13:5 (what would that say if I didn’t agree?) that one should be content with wages, have godliness and contentment, and to avoid covetousness.  I am sorry if I led you to believe I supported these things.

Anyhow, I hope as you read later of the forwards, that I corrected or explained my position more fully.

This is a great little study for both of us.  We must be as wise as serpents but as harmless as doves.  We must think these things through, even we must plan financially but far too many people let it consume their lives.  I really liked your line, “…I can see how it will take over if you are not careful.  But now I know, I need to be wise, but not worry, be prepared, but not obsessed!”

Thanks again, I enjoy our little banters.

Good bye to 2006

Another year has passed. Has it really? It doesn’t feel like it. I don’t feel any older. I don’t think I look any older. What really happened in 2006? Did it really exist? I know it did. I have the memories of it and the evidence. (I won’t be like some nations claiming that you cannot prove the past, like the Holocaust).A former President has died ending the year. I remember meeting President Ford in Twin Falls, Idaho. I must have only been about 10 or
12 at the time. I guess he liked to golf once and a while at the course down in the canyon. (Sad, I don’t even remember the name of it.  (Perhaps I am getting older….)

Who else died this year? I read a few of Milton Friedman’s books. I still sing to myself the music of Malcolm Arnold, especially River Kwai.  I remember joking about what it must be like to be Robert C Baker, but now I would feel bad joking of chicken nuggets. Buck Owens who I saw in Branson passed away. We can’t forget political leaders like President Ford, Senator Stafford, or Congressman Sonny Montgomery. Ed Bradley who I liked to watch. 60 Minutes just won’t be the same anymore without Bradley and Wallace. Who were some not so notable, or infamous, Mr. Lay, Jeff Lundgren, Saddam. It has been a year for deaths! Oh, I about forgot Steve Irwin. It seemed every little kid in England talked of Steve.

A couple of family members have passed away. Ebertha Lutz of my Van Leeuwen line. Dean Sharp just passed away last week. His funeral is on Thursday up in Pasco, Washington. That doesn’t leave many of the Sharp family around either. I know Grandpa is struggling with his death.  Dad, Jan, and Grandpa are going up to the funeral. I hope when my time comes, it will go as well. He wasn’t feeling well, and went to the hospital. His oxygen was low, so they put him on oxygen and he wanted to go home. He was resting and Lois heard him make a noise and saw his oxygen was off. She went over and he was gone. Quick, painless, and comfortable.

I only visited with Dean two weeks ago. I called him to ask him some family history questions about his parents and recollections of Mary Ann Stoker, aka Lillian Musgrave. He told me characteristics of his parents, Edward Sharp and Lillie East. He always had a cool little laugh when he finished speaking. Don’t know if it was a nervous laugh, something he picked up, but it always made me feel relaxed. He never
knew his grandmother, I had to get that information elsewhere. Good bye Dean.

I received an e-mail from a Terry McHugh in South Carolina. He was searching information on the Stoker line. I filled him on information I
had, and gleaned quite a bit from him. It was good to focus some more on the Stoker line. I still have yet to figure out why my Mary Ann
Stoker (married Sharp) went by Lily (Lillian) Musgrave for a spell.

I called Grandpa and he shared a few memories with me. He said she was fairly tall, I am not sure what that means. Grandpa is not necessarily tall. He used to walk past her house every day on the way to school.  He would stop in on his way home when she was alive. It is the same house my Aunt Caroline lives in now.

She would have him put the hooks in the holes for her shoe laces. She also had him pull the strings on her girdle for her. He used to ask why
she needed the thing; after all she was so skinny. She would just sigh and ask him to pull them just a little tighter. It sounded like it was sweet memories. She had a horn for hearing. She went deafer over the years. Grandpa would ask why she needed that horn and she would say it was because he wasn’t speaking loud enough. It was interesting that June Streeter had memories of Lily, but didn’t know who she was. It wasn’t until a few months back talking with her daughter that I cleared that up in her mind.

Life changed considerably for Amanda and me this year. I again made a move across the country. One thing is for sure, get married and the
physical baggage multiplies! You would think that my trunk full of possessions would only double. Some reason or another, women are not
confined to a Spartan life. But add a marriage to it, and the making of a home, and things grow exponentially. There are ways I would like to
go more Spartan, but Amanda won’t have any of that. Probably a good thing.

Dad had his operation and seems to be back to normal. Indeed, he is better than he has been for the last five years. I am glad he has made
such a recovery, even improvement. Jan had her operation on her back.  For some reason I cannot recall if that was earlier this year or not.
Yes, I think it was, pretty sure it was. She is doing much better. Her progress has not been as quick as Dad’s but she is doing better.

Overall it has been a good year. Even the few dreams I have had have all been good. There is one that repeated some over the year. Have yet no idea what it could possibly mean. I am back living at Kasota Road.  But I have to go to the dentist. I go, and it is Garrison Keillor who
is the dentist. We end up chatting about a few things. By the time the appointment is done, he has split a tooth in half, and pulled it.  Having removed a tooth, I am concerned and discuss my issues with him.  He takes and makes me a new tooth and screws it back into the top of my mouth. I am shocked that I can notice no difference from the old to the new tooth. I am impressed there is no swelling and no pain. He doesn’t even use pain killers. It is his reasoning that makes things work so well despite my little idiosyncrasies. Perhaps it is just that I need
to reason and talk through more things in life. I almost laugh in the mornings when I realize I am dreaming of going to the dentist, spending
the conversation with Keillor, and then arise to find life is great.  Perhaps it is just a happy dream. Don’t know why I find it so ironic that the dentist and Keillor make me happy, but I won’t complain. (Now people will think I am more off my rocker than ever!)

Well, I think I will sign off. I look forward to what 2007 has to bring. I am sure it will have many surprises and interesting things to mention. It will be the first year in a long time that I am planning, for the most part, of staying in the same state. Since graduation I have hopped between states every year.